|Pilot 2nd Lt John W. Carlson, O-743175 (MIA / KIA) MN
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Oscar M. Williams, O-683518 (MIA / KIA) FL
Navigator ? (rescued)
Gunner TSgt Louis S. Barone (rescued)
Ditched October 25, 1943
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to Australia.
Assigned to the 43rd Bombardment Group, 403rd Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Shewansta" with the nose art of a nude cartoon woman on the right side of the nose. When lost, weapon and engine serial numbers unknown.
On October 25, 1943 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby on a bombing mission against Rabaul. The formation of bombers escorted by P-38 Lightings encountered bad weather, requiring instrument flying to the target.
Over Rabaul the bombers were met at Rabaul by fierce resistance from enemy fighters and anti-aircraft fire, bombing Lakunai Airfield. Bombers from the 403rd Bombardment Squadron were the last over the target and dropped their bomb through the dust and smoke cloud caused by the rest of the formation.
Damaged over the target, this bomber was attacked by enemy fighters. Two other bombers in the formation dropped back to box it in for protection and claimed eight fighters shot down before they departed. Afterwards, for an additional fifteen minutes fighters lined up and made firing passes, but the bomber manage to escape despite two engines being inoperative.
Finally, the two remaining engines cut out forcing the bomber to ditch into the Solomon Sea south of New Britain, roughly forty miles north of Kirina on Kirwinia Island. During the ditching, the pilot and co-pilot were trapped in the cockpit during the crash landing and went down with the sinking bomber. Both were never seen again and were listed as Missing In Action (MIA). The other eight crew members survived the ditching.
On October 25, 1943 an Anson 127 EG127 from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), 1 Rescue and Communication Squadron (Kiriwina Detachment) searched for four hours for the crew of a missing B-24 (presumed to be this aircraft). After being located, eight crew members were rescued by PBY Catalina and returned to duty.
Carlson and Williams were officially declared dead the day of the mission. Both are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
John Barone (brother of TSgt Louis S. Barone)
"The reason anyone knows about this plane is because I started the quest in 2002 to find out about my brother's (deceased 1983 from complications of cancer surgery) ditching incident. Damain Waters contacted Bruce Hoy on 2 May 2003 via email and if you have never heard of him he was, since 1979, the Curator of Modern History at the National Museum in Port Moresby. He returned to Australia in 1988 and then until 1993 he was under contract to the USAF to assist them with their MIA program. It was Bruce Hoy who, with my assembled info narrowing down the date of the incident, uncovered the plane number, date of ditching, and the two KIAs. If anyone should be credited with this plane's identity it's Bruce Hoy.
Another lead I followed led my to the navigator of a 403rd B-24 who did not know my brother or the 2 KIAs. After an hour and a half of conversation he dug out his log book for that date and mission. He said, "Oh my God... I was there!" I met him personally and he gave me the log book and I copied his notes with the coordinates of the plane, well, he was a navigator! I later got the log notes from his captain and the bombardier on that plane. He noted date, time, coordinates and further noted, "PT boats on the way." I have been following that PT boat lead for years with the PT organization."
Missing Air Crew Report 16367 (MACR 16367) was created postwar and only lists the two MIA crew members
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) John W. Carlson
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) Oscar M. Williams
FindAGrave - 2Lt John W Carlson (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Lieut John W. Carlson (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Lieut Oscar M. Williams (tablets of the missing)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-24D Liberator 42-72800
HyperWar: The Army Air Forces in WWII: Vol. IV Chapter X pages 323-324
"One plane in the last squadron, the 403d, was badly damaged and promptly set upon by Japanese fighters. Two bombers, dropping back to box it in for protection, shot down eight enemy planes before they had to pull off. Then, for fifteen minutes the Japanese lined up to make their passes, but the plane still flew. Not until after the enemy had given up did the two remaining engines cut out and the plane break up after ditching. The pilot and co-pilot were trapped, but eight of the crew got out and were picked up by a Catalina."
Thanks to John Barone for additional information.
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February 14, 2020